The FTC have recently introduced new guidelines designed to help ensure transparency on social media when it comes to reviews and other content. Let's take a closer look at what sort of impact this could have on PT clinics using social media.
The changes that you need to be aware of are updates to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Endorsement Guidelines. Essentially, these make clear how brands, personalities and even individuals need to disclose their relationship to a product or service when promoting it on social media. The ultimate goal is to make it clear to consumers when a review of a product or service is unsolicited and honest and when it may have been influenced by some form of payment or reward. The new guidelines will bring social media reviews onto the same level as television advertising where companies need to include disclaimers and clarifications when an actor is used instead of a genuine customer.
The new guidelines will have an impact on some of the content that you share on social media, especially where reviews and testimonials are concerned. Let's take a look at some of the situations where you will need to be careful in order to maintain social media transparency :
Video Marketing – Under the new guidelines video bloggers are required to disclose their relationship with brands and any sponsorship that may be in place. This includes receiving free treatments in exchange for a review of your services. This means that if your videos contain clips showing patient reviews then they must be genuine testimonials. If the patients have been compensated then you must disclose this at the start of the video.
Purchased Likes – There has always been controversy surrounding the purchase of Facebook likes to make a brand look more popular and dummy accounts have been getting scrubbed in recent months. However, the new guidelines state once and for all that this is a spammy practice and the FTC are taking a firm stance against it stating that purchased likes are deceptive. This applies not just to Facebook, but all social media platforms.
Employees & Celebrities Must Be Transparent – While most physical therapy clinics won't be using celebrity endorsements, they may have employees who tweet about the clinic or share Facebook posts about their place of work. This is another area that the FTC are cracking down on. These posts need to have 'Ad' or 'Sponsored' in them or some other disclaimer that indicates they are affiliated with the clinic.
Customer Testimonials – It is not just employees who need to be transparent. The same also goes for customer testimonials. Clinics need to be very careful about offering incentives to patients who offer a review or testimonial. This is something that is against the terms and conditions of most social networks anyway, but now the FTC are also keeping an eye on it so it is time to be really careful about soliciting reviews from patients.
These are just a few of the things that you need to be aware if to make sure that you are not caught out by the FTC's updated endorsement guidelines. In the simplest of terms your clinic needs to make sure that all social media activity is honest and transparent. If you need help with social media marketing, then get in touch with PatientSites today and find out how we can help you to build a strong social media presence while abiding by FTC guidelines.
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